tv Education Secretary Nominee Betsy De Vos Testifies at Confirmation Hearing CSPAN January 22, 2017 10:33am-11:32am EST
of political science and chair of studies at johns hopkins university talks about his book, what washington gets wrong, the novel -- the unelected officials and the misconceptions of the american people. >> when we elected congress that , the courts review the laws. this isn't how the system works. much of it we think of as the law consists of rules and regulations written by bureaucratic agencies. >> tonight on q&a.
the spring or in the summer. and then you can implement the plans and the school year that begins next year. is your intention to continue on that schedule? >> absolutely, senator, and if there is any confusion or question around transition, rest assured it it would be a high priority if confirmed, for me to ensure that the plan is adhered to and at the law is implemented. >> plans are being circulated among various groups, and if you are confirmed people will be looking at signals from you. as you can tell we have
considerable differences of opinion. and we resolved enough that 85 of us voted for -- we worked out some difficult issues. we even put with senator murray likes to call guardrails on the states, and we even put some guardrails on the secretary of education, which my colleagues on the democratic side may now think better of, that we did that. would you -- what is your attitude to respecting the authority that congress gives you and trying to implement the law according to the way it is written rather than trying to legislate from where you are? you think very strong way of giving low income parents more choices of schools. we debated that i don't got 45 votes for senator scott's bill and my bill. would you try to get that through the department of education even though congress
couldn't do it? ms. devos: it would be my goal to implement laws as you intended them. i knowledge that it is your role to write laws and pass laws, and it would be the department's role to implement as intended. sen. alexander: so no matter how strongly you feel about school choice, for example, you wouldn't be prepared to mandate washington state or tennessee adoptees particular plan? ms. devos: i can see the merit, but not any kind of mandate from within the department. sen. alexander: the scholarship for kids legislation that i proposed the got 45 votes, which was not enough, and senator scott proposed a more limited version that had to do with students with disabilities basically said that -- i state, we can take $24 billion of
federal dollars we now spend, $24 billion of the money we now spend, and the state could choose to take that money and turn it into $2100 scholarships and let it fall of the students through the schools that the state chose. if the state did not approve of dollars going to private school or religious schools, didn't have to do that, or if they did that, which i think it could do that. in this case, it would allow the states to make the decision and the parents to make the choice, rather than washington give an order you have to do school choice. is that the kind of proposal you would support or not? ms. devos: yes, absolutely. we have seen a wide variety of school choice programs. so i think it would really be dependent on each state's political realities and culture and how they wanted to approach
that opportunity and that option, or if they wanted to expand it. that would be another alternative as well. sen. alexander: thank you. senator baldwin. sen. baldwin: thank you, mr. chairman. i wanted to weigh in also that i hope we will get additional opportunity to ask questions. i would like it to be not in writing but to give the american people the chance to hear the exchange and responses. mr. chairman, i also associate myself with the concerns raised by our ranking member regarding the holding of this hearing prior to receipt of the office of government ethics plan for elimination of possible conflicts of interest.
mrs. devos, you had the chance to answer questions already about your family's indirect investments and for-profit companies, including finance and performance, which i understand to be a collection agency that specializes in student debt collection. so i won't repeat those there, but let me get to the agreements that are forthcoming. what would you do to take advantage of section 1043 of the internal revenue code that allows you to defer capital gains taxes on the sale of assets divested in order to comply with ethics rules? this provision can allow wealthy individuals to save hundreds of millions of dollars.
it is why, when i became aware of this and i joined senators white house and warren on this committee, as well as our colleague senator feinstein, it introducing a bill to close this loophole or at least limit the amount of capital gains that could be deferred to $1 million. because we don't have your financial information get from the office of government ethics, my question to you is, are you planning on taking advantage of this tax loophole? ms. devos: senator, thank you for that question. let me just restate again that i look forward to the ethics agreement finalization with the government office of ethics and committed to ensuring that i have no conflict. with respect to your specific question, i will not take advantage of that. i have already made that
conclusion, that decision. in fact, it would probably be useful to note here if confirmed, i will only take a salary of one dollar so i can be official, but i don't want to take a salary either. sen. baldwin: i also listened carefully to your opening statement in your exchange with senator franken. related to your sizable donations to a number of anti-lgbt donations that have been associated with advocacy for the discredited practice of conversion therapy, i was heartened by your response, i will say. but i will note that these same organizations, anti-lgbt organizations, also have been hostile to nondiscrimination
protections, issues like adoption, marriage equality. given the alarm that parents have expressed to me about these donations to anti-lgbt organizations, i guess i want to ask, i mean, i assume there are lgbt students and their parents watching tonight. what would you say to them to assure that you are going to use your position as secretary to support lgbt students or students with lgbt parents? ms. devos: thank you, senator. let me restate again i embrace equality, and i firmly believe in the intrinsic value of each individual, and that every student should have the assurance of a safe and discrimination-free place to
become educated. i want to restate those principles of values for me. let me comment to the things you have referred to again and suggested that you may be confusing some other family members in some of those contributions. also, looking at contributions from 18 or 20 years ago. so i just want to again refer to what i just said about my approach. i, if i -- as a mom, i just can't imagine having a child that would feel discriminated against for any reason, and i would want my child in a safe environment. sen. baldwin: i note that i have run out of time. mr. chairman, i have many more questions that i would like to propound. i will say, mrs. devos, if you think -- and we have been fairly
general given our restricted time given the issue of charitable conservations if you will or contributions to these anti-lgbt advocacy organizations, if you feel like there has been a family member who has contributed and your being identified in the public record is incorrect, please in writing follow up. i received no information to the contrary. sen. alexander: thank you, senator baldwin. senator roberts. sen. roberts: thank you for holding the hearing. i think the ranking member as well. mrs. devos, thank you for being responsive, articulate, informed, and in my view, specific. i suppose, mr. chairman, all members could submit any specific questions they have for
the record, and when did we have a time period on that, we will always speak on the senate floor. thank you for coming by my office. we had a nice visit. i let you know way back that i had the opportunity to teach also while trying to put out a newspaper in phoenix, not kansas but phoenix. but at any rate, i know you probably understand the one-size-fits-all education system just as not work. you said that in your testimony. and i told you that i hold a roundtable discussion in kansas and washburn university. there were 12 college presidents, all of them except a few, and 12 business stakeholders, very important to those universities, to discuss higher education and workforce development going to the fact that we will attempt to pass a higher education bill.
in particular i heard from the leaders about the impact of federal programs, policies and more especially regulation. on-campus institutions of higher education. during our meeting in our office, i shared with you and information chart. i need a bigger chart. like the guy who said he needed a bigger boat with the shark coming after him. maybe that is not a proper category, but any rate, these are 34 topics or areas of federal regulation. some of them are very important, but the collective judgment was that they were so intrusive, so expensive, so time-consuming was that they had to get an office of the compliance just to look at federal regulations. in the assigned affairs to go till the various departments that make up the johnson county community college. which, by the way, has the highest enrollment of any
university or college in kansas, more than the jayhawks were the sharks. these 34 areas of federal regulation, supposedly impactful to the school, basically indicate that we need to work together to eliminate many of these burdensome legislations that hamper higher education institutions. as you know, and i think everybody, i would have agreement on the other side of the dais as well, regulations are one of the key areas this committee will focus on as we focus on the higher education act. will you be a partner in addressing many of these time-consuming regulations?
ms. devos: senator, thanks for the question, and thanks for meeting in your office. i appreciate seeing the chart again. i am a visual learner, so i appreciate that in particular. if confirmed, i will look forward to working with you and this committee and the act and the regulations you have referred to. i will help them do what they do best. sen. roberts: for kansas education, along with my fellow senator, it is tough when you try to go directly to the person who is in charge of that department, namely you. and i tried that before sitting down across from president obama and complaining about insuscthrtseunder his executivel